Open Mic Friday: Meet Emily, the Experimentarian
In her interview we learn more about her running and life as she faces her eating disorder head on. More importantly, we learn that while she has an eating disorder, her disorder does not have her.
Welcome Emily, the Experimentarian!
The name of your blog is Experimentarian. Tell us what that means and what you are trying to accomplish with it?
“Experimentarian” was a word I originally made up because I love to find new and strange food products to try, and I tend to cook and bake using recipes as mere suggestions as opposed to strict guidelines. I keep what I eat very healthy for the most part, but luckily, that hasn’t made me any less adventurous.
The blog was never meant to be solely about the eating disorder, but was started as I began to give myself the freedom to experiment with as many different “crazy” foods and eating styles as I wanted to. After years of restriction, there is almost nothing more exciting to me than finally making the concerted effort to truly eat what I want.
Sometimes my experiments are simply crazy for me—like when I first tried an avocado or confront a fear food. Other times, as in my weekly feature, Freaky Food Friday, I do eat things that most people would consider a little wacky.
My ultimate goal with the blog is to continue to challenge myself with each new experiment, and encourage others to do the same. Every time I try something new, I feel like I take a step in my recovery as well in terms of discovering my true likes and dislikes, and letting go of so many ingrained restrictive behaviors. Food should be a fluid and enjoyable aspect of everyone’s life, and I believe experimentation can only make it more so.
What should others know about friends, family, and co-workers who have eating disorders, particularly runners?
There is typically a lack of understanding for those suffering from eating disorders, but there does not have to be a lack of support! It is a widely held belief that ED’s victims, particularly athletes, choose their affliction, when in reality, nothing is further from the truth. Eating disorders are a compulsory disease that trap those that have them in webs of inaccurate and deep-rooted perceptions and routines. False logic and body dismorphia are some of ED’s greatest tools, and those attributes can be particularly mind boggling for a friend or family member seeing things from the outside.
Often, it’s so difficult to think of what to say or do to help, but just know that providing unconditional love and positively is the best thing you can do. Take the focus off food and eating, and try not to engage in “fat talk” or body comparisons as you interact with the sufferer. Helping those with ED’s to feel accepted and loved outside of what they eat and what they look like goes a long way towards building an identity separate from their eating disorder.
How does a love for food, cooking, and baking co-exist with an eating disorder?
Good question! I have always loved eating, cooking and baking. My dad and grandmother were always excellent role models in the kitchen, and I share my mom’s sweet tooth, so food has always been a big part of my life and family.
One of the saddest parts of developing an eating disorder was losing the ability to cook the things I liked or wanted to try. In addition to missing out on creating some great eats, I also lost part of the connection held with my family over food. It puts a great strain on meal times.
The best thing I have learned about myself since I’ve taken up running is that I am stronger than I think! I have never really shied away from a challenge, physical or otherwise, but some things I don’t attempt because I already know that I can push myself to do them. Not so with running—I really wasn’t sure I could do it. As I explained in my story, exercising independently of a machine with a timer and a calorie counter helps me break out of the routines that ED has established. Knowing that I am able to move my body in a way that I never thought I could (and to accomplish things like my 10k) helps to give me the courage to battle ED and find the faith I need to keep going.
Any quirky running traits?
I have to listen to music while I run which isn’t so odd, but I also looove to sing along to it. Mostly I sing in my head, but sometimes I’ve got to let it out! Usually just under my breath, but if I’m running with my husband, I will straight up sing him the chorus. He just shakes his head ☺
Current running goals?
My current running goals are just to keep doing it! I don’t know if I’m ready for any races longer than a 10k yet, but I want to keep up my level of fitness and keep challenging myself! I would like to try some speed work, and plan to keep varying my distances and routes so that I can always keep it fresh and fun.
As you know, I love to eat, bake and cook! I love to read—it’s my favorite pastime! Right now I’m reading the Sookie Stackhouse books, but I have several on my bookshelf waiting for me to crack open. Next up: The End of Food by Paul Roberts and Jenni Schaeffer’s new one, Good bye Ed, Hello Me.
I also enjoy taking pictures, shopping, spending time with my family, hiking, kayaking, sunshine and serving in my church as a youth leader.
I’m also working on my yoga practice, which really helps me to tune in to my body and appreciate it for it’s strength and individuality.
Most embarrassing running moment?
I alluded to this event in my story as well, but didn’t fully illustrate the experience: I have wanted to be a runner for a long time. In junior high, I even joined the track team for a little bit. For some reason, I ended up practicing hurdles, which was odd because as much as I wasn’t a runner, I was more certainly not a jumper!
One day during practice, we were doing some drills and everything was going along swimmingly—one, two, jump, one, two, jump. One, two, and the very last itty bitty centimeter of my shoe snagged on the hurdle. I was at the top of my leap, with both feet off the ground, and I was so completely thrown off balance that I somersaulted in the air, bounced off the track and skidded along face first for about 4 feet.
I actually have no recollection of this since, as you can imagine, in addition to nearly tearing my face off, I hit my head pretty hard. From what I hear, though, it was spectacular! The worst part was getting stitched up in the emergency room with that nasty heavy-duty black surgical thread. I looked like I had a spider sticking out of my nose! Fortunately, I do have quite the pointy nose, and landing on that probably prevented me from some other gruesome facial deformation. I’ve not had any embarrassing running moments that top that yet, but it’s only a matter of time ☺
Lots! I have a wonderful husband, a busy career, and we just purchased out first home! We have been very involved with renovating the house before we officially move in, so I’ve been building new skill sets by ripping up carpet, tearing out tile, patching walls and soon, painting!
Best running advice you’ve ever been given?
Have a goal! I had been running pretty consistently when I decided to sign up for the 10k, so I knew I would be able to do—I just needed a little push. Make sure your goal is realistic as well. Note that I signed up for a 10k, not a marathon!
Best running advice you’d like to share?
Keep trying! You can do it! Running is your own personal experiment that you can structure any way you want! Even if you run two steps, that’s two steps you’ve never run before, and IT COUNTS!
Do you know a runner you would recommend for Open Mic Friday?
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